Benefits of Solar Energy
Solar power offers the following financial and environmental benefits to homeowners.
- Cost savings: Switching to solar energy helps reduce expensive fossil fuel use, lowering energy bills.
- Increased home value: Purchasing a solar system is a home renovation, leading to higher property value.
- Infinite energy source: As a renewable energy source, solar energy is readily available, inexhaustible, and sustainable.
- Reduced carbon footprint: Solar energy generates no carbon emissions, helping you reduce your carbon footprint.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?
The average solar system costs about $25,000, according to 2023 data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). However, installation could vary based on several factors, such as your system size, average energy use, and location. Larger homes require more panels to sustain their energy needs. If you have frequent cloudy days, you’ll need more panels to generate more electricity. Investing in more efficient solar panels leads to better energy generation but requires a larger investment. Additional cost factors include roof design, financing options, and available state and local solar incentives.
How To Choose the Best Solar Installer Near You
As you shop for solar installers, consider the following key factors when comparing companies.
Cost and Offerings
Solar system pricing varies between providers and product manufacturers. You’ll typically pay more for high-quality home panels since they provide better energy production and cost savings. Although cheaper solar panels provide some financial relief, they produce less energy and require more panels to support your home energy needs. To find the best pricing, homeowners should request solar quotes from at least three installers.
When comparing companies, review each provider’s product catalog and warranty coverage. Some companies have several options for panels, inverters, and add-on upgrades such as solar batteries and electric vehicle (EV) chargers. Check for additional solar services, such as in-house installation, system monitoring, and mobile apps. Some providers offer other home services such as roof repair, electrical services, or energy audits.
Consider using solar incentives, credits, and rebates to help offset installation costs. The federal tax credit is available to any solar customers that own their system. With this incentive, you receive up to 30% off installation costs. Additional state and city-level incentives offer extra cost savings but vary by area. Some states offer net-metering programs that allow customers to sell back excess energy for energy bill credits.
Licensing and Training
We recommend checking each solar installation company’s state licenses to ensure their coverage in your state. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) offers a database of licensing requirements for each state. You should also consider hiring a solar installer certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). This prestigious certification is optional but demonstrates a company’s commitment to installation and service excellence. Solar providers learn the most up-to-date installation practices, solar technology, and industry ethics. The company must hold state licenses for each service if it offers additional home services.
Most solar companies offer two or more solar financing options to meet different household budgets. Your payment choice affects installation costs, legal system ownership, and additional cost savings. Below is an overview of the most common payment options:
- Cash (or up-front) payments: Homeowners pay the full, up-front system costs and become the legal system owner. This ownership qualifies you for solar incentives, credits, and rebates that help lower installation costs.
- Solar loans: Customers make down payments, then complete monthly payments with interest over a specific timeframe. This payment option also makes you the legal owner.
- Solar leases: Instead of owning the system, you rent it from the solar provider and make monthly payments toward its cost. You won't qualify for solar incentives since you aren't the legal owner.
- Power purchase agreements (PPAs): You rent the system from the provider but make monthly payments for the solar energy you use, not the system. This option also disqualifies you from legal ownership and additional incentive savings.
Regarding long-term savings and return on investment (ROI), cash payments and solar loans offer the best financial benefits. Solar leases or PPAs benefit homeowners that aren’t interested in legal ownership.
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FAQ's About Solar Companies Near Me
What is the best type of solar panel?
Monocrystalline (mono) panels are the best type of solar panels available. They offer excellent energy production, have long life spans, and take up less room than other panel types. Due to their more expensive manufacturing process and better performance, mono panels have a higher price tag.
How long do solar panels last?
Solar panels last about 25–35 years, with some high-quality options lasting up to 40 years. Other system components, such as inverters or batteries, may need more frequent replacement to keep your system running.
Will solar panels eliminate my electric bill?
No, in most cases you will still receive an electric bill with solar panels. Most solar systems help drastically reduce your electricity use but are still grid-tied. You’ll still need to draw power from the utility company such as during low-sunlight days and overnight when panels aren’t in use. Unless you have a completely off-grid system, you’ll still need power from your utility company.
Do solar panels work on cloudy days?
Yes, solar panels will work even on cloudy days, although your overall performance level will decrease. If you live in an area with frequent overcast days, your panels will produce less energy compared to areas with year-round sunny days.
How many solar panels do I need?
The average home needs about 25–27 solar panels, but this number varies per household. Your total number of panels depends on your home’s size, energy needs, solar panel type, and available roof space. You’ll need fewer high-efficiency panels since they have better energy production levels and come in more compact sizes. You’ll need more space for cheaper panels because of their lower efficiency and larger size.
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